After months of resistance, I finally purchased and read Dr. K E Garland’s The Unhappy Wife. My original thoughts about the text were a barrier to engagement. Based on the title alone, I assumed that only married women could extract pearls of wisdom from the book. This mythical position was dispelled after reading just a few pages of the first section. This wonderful collection of short stories has use-value for most people, irrespective of sex/gender and marital status.
The Unhappy Wife is an assortment of twelve visceral testimonies inspired by the actual experiences of married women. Each relationship goes through a period(s) of disenchantment – owing to a wide range of internal and/or external factors. The varying responses to these circumstances are presented in three parts and corresponding themes: The Voiceless Wife, The Detached Wife, and The Committed Wife. These narratives are powerful and captivating. Overall, the stories run the gamut of human emotion. At times, I found myself jotting “LOL” in the margins; at other times, I was deeply disturbed.
What I appreciate most about the text is its readability. The paperback version has relatively larger font and indentations between lines – so one’s experience is not hindered by straining. It is also helpful that the language is clear. The narratives are straightforward and brutally honest. There are no pretentious theories or proselytizing. While being married is the common denominator among women in the book, there is no political and/or religious agenda which praises or condemns the institution of marriage. Readers are not ambushed with righteous diatribes about ‘family values’ or the Church. Attention centers on the subjective happiness of the women. This is made clear on the first page of the text, dedicated to each of the women, which says: “May you forever be happy, with or without a husband” (emphasis mine).
As such, The Unhappy Wife is more than just a medley of testimonies. It is also an invitation to reflect upon our own relationships, the problems lurking beneath the surface, and the potential for happiness. I learned a lot about myself with every chapter. I recognized my words and tendencies in a few of the wives, husbands, and/or mistresses. My personal favorites were Gina, Mrs. Little, and Lesa. When Lesa’s story ended, I wanted an encore. Beneath the last sentence, I wrote “damn, this was a good one, I want a sequel!” Nonetheless, the book strikes a perfect and delicate balance in terms of length. The stories are long enough to convey vital facts and intrigue readers; but short enough to avoid communicating non-essential and even confusing information. As an unmarried male who is considering matrimony soon, I feel equipped with more tools for recognizing telltale signs of relational disenchantment – thanks to Dr. Garland! This ensures that my future marriage will have a stronger base at the beginning.
I highly recommend The Unhappy Wife to anyone and everyone who is, was, or hoping to be in a committed relationship. The Unhappy Wife can be purchased through Amazon in paperback or Kindle; or through Barnes & Noble. And be sure to visit Dr. Garland’s blog!